Aye Books: A Preview Of The Aye Write Book Festival 2014…

Starting tomorrow (4th), and running til the 12th April, is this year’s Aye Write Book Festival at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow, and I’m delighted to say it boasts a fantastic line-up, with something for everyone, but definitely lots of things for readers of Scots Whay Hae!  to enjoy.

You can take your time over the full online brochure here, but there are a few key events which you should make time for, if at all possible.

Many of our previous podcast guests are in town to talk books, and recent interviewee,Vic Galloway, is going to be at the Mitchell Library tomorrow evening (4th) to talk about his book Songs In The Key Of Fife. You can hear what he said to us on the podcast, but I can guarantee that he’ll have lots more tales to tell about the music scene in Scotland today. Vic is on between 6-7pm.

Also around tomorrow night; Alan Bissett shares a stage with fellow novelist Luke Brown in an event called Modern Men. Bissett has been concentrating on the stage rather than the page recently, while also working tirelessly for the Yes campaign, but it is important to remember that he is one of our best writers and this event should remind us of just that. You can hear Alan’s reading of the Robert Louis Stevenson short story, Thrawn Janet, he recorded for us here, and he and Luke are on between 7.30-8.30pm.

Saturday (5th) sees the enigmatic and hugely talented Andrew Crumey sharing an event with Sarah Dry to talk about Science and the Occult in literature. Crumey’s most recent novel is The Secret Knowledge, which will be reviewed on these pages soon, but you can read a review of his cult classic Pfitz over at Indelible Ink. Crumey and Dry are on between 12-1pm.

On Saturday afternoon, Ewan Morrison is going to talk about the forthcoming film adaptation of his novel Swung, and you can read a review of that book also over at Indelible Ink.  He’ll be talking about the problems of bringing a book to the big screen, but I imagine the discussion will go in directions you will not expect. You can catch Ewan between 4.30-5.30pm.

Saturday evening sees the arrival of a true literary legend, William McIlvanney. His work has been given a long overdue reassessment recently, and he is rightly seen as the ‘godfather of Tartan Noir’, but he is so much more than that sobriquet suggests. A natural raconteur, McIlvanney is sure to keep his audience enrapt from start to finish, which will be 7.30-8.30pm.

Another podcast guest from last year was James Robertson, and he’s back at Aye Write, this time to talk about the enigma of Robert The Bruce. Robertson is simply one of our best writers, and when he talks about writing you would be missing out not to listen closely. You can hear him on the podcast here, and see him on Sunday (6th) from 3-4pm.

At 6-7pm on Sunday you have a real choice to make between Scotland’s current Makar, and someone who I think could be one of the future, or perhaps I mean ‘should’ be one of the future, (but I’ll admit I may be the only one who thinks this way). The former is, of course, Liz Lochhead, the latter, Aidan Moffat. Who you choose is up to you, but they are two of the most entertaining wordsmiths we have and both will be great events.

Something which could be very special indeed is a rehearsed reading of Tom Leonard’s translation of Brecht’s Mother Courage. This seems to me to be the perfect match of poet and text, and I can imagine that Leonard’s mastery of Scots will not only help break the fourth wall, but smash it down. Mother Courage is on Sunday night between 7.30-8.30pm

Moving on to Tuesday (8th), and A.L. Kennedy is going to be discussing her latest collection of short stories, All The Rage. Kennedy is a master of the form, and she is always an entertaining and interesting speaker, and she will be on stage between 6-7pm. In the meantime you can read a review of here last novel, The Blue Book, here.

One of the most intriguing, and potentially controversial, events will be Scotland and Slavery where Prof. Tom Devine will discuss Scotland’s part in the history of that terrible trade. In the year the Commonwealth Games comes to Glasgow, it will be fascinating to listen to what Devine has to tell us. This event is on Wednesday (9th), 8.30-9.30pm.

So far I’ve concentrated on Scottish writers and events, but Thursday the 10th sees two of my favourite people coming to The Mitchell; the humanist and moral philosopher Mary Midgely, and pop-writer, and part of the glorious St Etienne, Bob Stanley. Midgely is going to be discussing her latest book Are You An Illusion?, which, at a book festival is an interesting question to consider. Stanley will guide us through his take on modern music in his book Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: A History of Modern Pop, and for anyone with an interest in pop culture it will be a must read, and a must attend event. Mary Midgely is on between 6-7pm, while Bob Stanley is on between 7.30-8.30pm.


Our most recent podcast was an interview with Adele Patrick from the Glasgow Women’s Library, and the thing which sparked that interview was the publication of the collection of prints, essays and shorts stories which is 21 Revolutions. If you wondered what all the fuss is about you should go to their event on Friday the 11th where there will be readings and discussion. I highly recommend attending if you can, and it is on between 7.30-8.30pm. 

And finally, to the closing Saturday (12th), and what a way to go out in style. The day is packed with events, but here are just two recommendations. If you missed the recent launch of Louise Welsh’s latest novel A Lovely Way To Burn, you can remedy that by attending her event at 1.30-2.30pm. Louise is not only a great writer but a great reader, and her live events are always memorable. You can read the Scots Whay Hae! review of the novel here

There is only one person to finish with, and that is Alasdair Gray who launches Of Me And Others at his Aye Write event. It is a collection of his non-fiction writing from over his lifetime, such as his Art School thesis, essays, reviews, obituaries and more; all of which add up to one of the most unconventional yet fascinating autobiographies you will ever read. Alasdair will be on stage from 4.30-5.30pm on the Saturday afternoon, and if you only choose one Aye Write event, may I humbly suggest you make it this one.

That’s it for another year. 2015 will have a lot to live up to…

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